Sapphire Nitro R9 Fury graphics card review: Fast, furious, and ridiculously quiet

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Bottom line

Many of the key takeaways from our original AMD Radeon R9 Fury review still apply here.

While AMD and Sapphire promote the Fury as an entryway to 4K gaming, it’s better to consider it as an option for top-notch, take-no-prisoners 1440p gaming, as the card struggles to hit the Holy Grail of 60fps at 4K resolution. Many barely squeak past 30fps at 4K, in fact, and don’t forget that games will only become more graphically demanding over time, which doesn’t make the 4GB of RAM feel very future-proof despite its blistering-fast speeds. For 4K, you’re probably better off buying a GTX 980 Ti for $650, or dropping $550 to $600 for a pair of 8GB Radeon R9 390s.

If you do plan to pick up the Nitro R9 Fury for 4K gaming, I’d strongly suggest picking up a FreeSync monitor to go with it, as a monitor that syncs with the GPU to enable buttery-smooth, tear- and stutter-free visuals will go a long way toward making the 30-60fps at ultra HD resolutions more palatable. (Seriously, FreeSync and G-Sync monitors feel like magic.)

Sapphire R9 Nitro Fury Brad Chacos

All that said, there’s a whole lot to like in Sapphire’s Nitro R9 Fury. It’s cool, quiet, and impeccably designed. The 50MHz factory overclock gives the card enough extra oomph that it clearly tops the Asus Strix Fury in performance (albeit only by a few frames per second), whomps hard on the reference GTX 980 Ti, and comes uncomfortably close to the $650 GTX 980 Ti and Fury X. Sapphire’s custom board tweaks should help you push performance even further, too, if overclocking’s your thing.

And now that stocks are free-flowing and the Fury pricing has dropped from stratospheric levels, this card compares very well against monster GTX 980s, too—beating the similarly priced EVGA GTX 980 FTW across the board except in GTA V, which heavily favors Nvidia hardware. Most high-end GTX 980s with overclocks in excess of 1,275MHz (similar to the EVGA FTW) cost more than the Nitro R9 Fury’s $520 these days, too. So Sapphire’s graphics card outpunches its beefiest GeForce rivals, for the same price or less.

If Nvidia’s exceptional software ecosystem and vast energy efficiency lead appeal for a specific reason, the GTX 980 may still be the graphics card for you. (Note that GTX 980s with monster overclocks will give up that low-power advantage!) But if you’re looking for pure performance, cool temperatures, remarkably quiet noise levels, and superior multi-GPU scaling, the Sapphire Nitro R9 Fury comes highly recommended—for 1440p gaming, at least. The tables have turned yet again.

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At a Glance
  • Sapphire's impeccably designed Nitro R9 Fury will handle high-end games without breaking a sweat or raising its proverbial voice.

    Pros

    • Top-notch performance
    • Cool and quiet
    • Beautiful, sturdy design

    Cons

    • Fat and long
    • Consumes a lot of power
    • Only 4GB of RAM
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